The Journey Down: Chapter One is the first episode in a four-part point and click adventure puzzle game by developer Skygoblin. Chapter One was released in June 2012 with fans drawn in from the first chapter eagerly awaiting news on the second. Players must progress through the story by solving the problems and puzzles that arise via meeting and talking to some thoroughly interesting characters, combining and using items and exploring the surrounding area for clues.
The story begins with the player controlled Bwana and his trusted friend Kiko being informed that due to the overdue payments on their electricity bill, their supplier will be cutting them off, which causes a bit of a problem as the electricity powers their gas station which is their only source of income. They soon cross paths with an intriguing young woman and are thrown headfirst into a mysterious world of corporate dominance. Is this first chapter the start of a hidden gem or a book best left unopened?
Puzzling - There will be very little hand holding during the time you put into The Journey. Whilst some of the starting puzzles are very easy to get the player into the feel of things, towards the end of the title you can be spending long periods of time desperately searching the ports and drawers for the items you need to progress. A great balance has been achieved so that the player should never be stuck long enough to be frustrated to the point of giving up, but just enough to keep them thinking. It is a relief to see no hint buttons or shiny areas to indicate a point of interaction.
A Story to Uncover - The storyline so far exceeds expectations. The more you talk to some of the people around the area the more you uncover about the world you are playing in. Not too much is revealed at this point but at the same time, the player has been given enough information to begin forming opinions and theories. The world evidently has some dark secrets that one can look forward to uncovering in the future.
Get to Know - Each character in the first chapter has their own aura and personality and some are very likeable and humorous. Whilst some will be willing to help you out with whatever they can, others will be far less agreeable and actively try and prevent you from moving on. As you get to know them, it turns out that there is more depth to each character that initially meets the eye and if the character development continues further it could be exciting to see how they turn out.
Hidden Beauties - Some of the scenery is especially fantastic and great to have in the background as you go about your business. Furthermore The Journey has a unique portrayal of characters, inspired by African masks, which turn out looking rather fantastic on the most part and the high definition is a massive step up from the low resolution release in 2010.
Straightforward Controls - Although the puzzles may be difficult, there is no added complexity from a difficult to understand method of play. The name “point and click” should be taken literally in this case. The inventory is displayed on the bottom so if you need to access your items you can do so quickly and efficiently. The simple and quick way to play makes the game as simple as simple as possible to manoeuvre so more energy can go into diffusing the situations you will find yourself in.
Contrasting Quality - Although the scenery and the backdrops look incredible on the most part, the foreground is notably not as good which leads to a strange and disappointing juxtaposition of quality. This can be found in other places as well. Whilst the cut scenes are fabulously animated, the actual game is slightly less so. The voice acting of the main characters is good; however some of the other people you run into will not always shine through. Finally, Bwana’s face is for some reason nearly always stuck grinning which does not always fit the situation.
Snail-Pace Movement - One of the main reasons you will find yourself checking the same spot over and over for a solution you know is not there is because Bwana moves and an annoyingly slow pace and especially in the later game, most notably moving between the ship and the docks, getting from one place to another can be irritatingly slow.
The Journey Down: The Chapter One is a refreshing game in the point and click genre and one of the most satisfying in terms of style, control and difficulty for a long while. A player can expect to spend perhaps a good three hours over the course of the play assuming they do not get completely halted. The dialogue and story is entertaining and pleasing to play through and the surroundings are mostly beautiful as you slowly eek your way through the port.
The title is easily recommendable and definitely has the potential to become a very noteworthy series if given the attention it thoroughly deserves. After a first play through, one will find themselves feeling extremely content with the experience and left wanting more. However there is very little in terms of replay value, so we must wait to see what Skygoblin can make of the second chapter when it is released.
*This review was based on the PC version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*